Chylothorax Differential Diagnoses

Updated: May 16, 2017
  • Author: Sasha D Adams, MD; Chief Editor: BS Anand, MD  more...
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Diagnostic ConsiderationsImportant considerationsOther conditions to be considered

The timing of surgical management is controversial and depends on the etiology of the chylothorax and the patient's overall condition.

Patients with postesophagectomy chylothorax have a 50-82% mortality rate if treated conservatively.

A malignant etiology of the chylothorax must be ruled out, as greater than 50% of cases are due to malignancy, of which lymphoma accounts for approximately 75% of cases, followed by lung carcinoma.

Other conditions to consider in patients with suspected chylothorax include the following:

  • Acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (AIDS)-related complex
  • Congestive heart failure
  • Exudative pleural effusion
  • Malignant pleural effusion
  • Pseudochylothorax

Differential Diagnoses